Thursday, August 11, 2011

¡Nuevo compañero!

My dearest, most gracious, heavenly family

Haha, woops. Almost started a prayer there... Welp, thanks to all of those who wrote me letters for my birfday and stuff! I have really enjoyed the letters I've been getting lately. A happy Elder Bogdan means happy investigators! Sorry for not writing last week! I was busy!

So my companion Elder Silva left to serve in Bogotá, in the area that includes the temple, and my new companion is a Chileno, Elder Jara! It's refreshing to have a new companion. He jokes a lot, he's loud, he talks really fast, and he's crazy - or in other words, he's Chileno. He's a good teacher, so that's good. We've already butted heads in just a week, but I know that we can accomplish a lot together this transfer. At least now I don't feel like I'm teaching the lessons solo, whereas with Elder Silva I felt that way sometimes. So I'm grateful for my new companion. I realized this week that I LOVE to work. The first 3 days with Elder Jara, I felt really frustrated. He was sick, and because he didn't feel good, he didn't talk in the lessons. I thought, ''What the heck, are you gonna help me?'' The second day we went to lunch and he stood up from his chair and told me that his knee was hurting and that he couldn't walk, so we went back to the apartment for the rest of the day. The next day his knee was still bothering him and so we went to the clinic and he had an exam, and then we waited for like 3.5 hours for his radiography so that the doctor could tell him what was wrong. I heard that here in Colombia it's typical to wait for a LONG time when visiting the doctor. So that day we also didn't work very much. I was frustrated, and I thought that Elder Jara was lying about the pain because he wanted to chill in the house. I realized in all that frustration that I love working! I didn't come to Colombia to sit still and do nothing, to wait in doctor's clinics, to chill in the house. I came to work my butt off! But now Elder Jara's feeling better and he's helping A LOT, so I'm not angry at him anymore.

Oh, and yall probably wanna know what I did for my birthday, but first : Mom, thank you soooooo much for the package!!!!! I love you so much! I liked how you decorated the shoe box with little drawings and phrases of encouragement. Now I know that I DIDN'T get my drawing skills from you... haha! I love you! Thanks for the healthy cereal! I don't buy much cereal here cuz it's expensive, and when I do buy, I buy cereal that's not super healthy cuz it's cheaper. And I KNEW you'd remember that Sour Patch Kids are my favorite candy. And thanks for the Riesen's also! And the chips, and the power bar:) Welp, for my birthday, I worked like normal, and at night when I returned home to the apartment, we ate cake and ice cream, and the 3 other missionaries in my apartment tricked me and smased eggs on my head! As I was about to blow the candle out on the cake, they pulled eggs out of their pockets and smased them on my head! I wanted to beat them up at first (haha), but afterwards I realized it was really funny and it made my birthday very memorable. And we have everything on video too! haha! Also, some investigators (the Bernal Family) bought me pizza for my birthday, and the Toloza Family from the ward made me a cake and we celebrated a little in their house.

Mom, the emails you have been sending me have really shocked me. First to hear that Brett Weaver died, it was strange to imagine. I felt sad for the family and prayed a lot for them. And then to hear about the accident with the Moore family and the death of Brother Moore. I realized that while I was here in Colombia celebrating my birthday, a terrible crisis had occurred the same night in the Moore family. I prayed a lot for them as well. It was especially strange to comprehend the news of Brother Moore's death. My heart reached out to Sister Moore and her children. My friend Stephanie from Kempner told me about the accident as well and she's gonna give me Alaire's email. When I thought about how Alaire must be feeling, I thought about you, Mom. Because your dad died when you were the same age as Alaire. And she has two younger brothers as well who must be feeling sad in these times. I know the love of the Lord, and I know he will help them in their times of trial. And we can also help them as well. I hope you've have reached out to serve them, Mom. Because you know how they must be feeling. I'm glad for the knowledge of God's plan of Salvation, to know that God does everything for a purpose and knows what's best for us. I'm glad Mom that you realized that at a young age and were able to learn to trust in God in you times of trial.

I love our family and I'm also glad to know that we can be together forever, even after death. Thanks for all the happiness which you guys have shared with me in your letters!

Welp, I gotta go! I love all of you!

Elder Bogdan

20 años?? Què LOCO!!!!

Mi hermosa familia:)

Welp, I don't have much time to write today. But thanks to all those who wished me a happy birthday! And thanks to all those who thought about wishing me a happy birthday, but didn't actually do it, haha. Honestly, I'm not quite comprehending that I'm turning 20 tomorrow. And I'm not all that excited either. I'm more excited to celebrate Peruvian Independence Day tomorrow!!! 3 of the 4 missionaries who live in my apartment are Peruvian (1 of them being me). The other missionary is Chileno, and he sings really good! He was recording music before the misson. We both think that it's really refreshing to finally have someone to sing with who sings good, because that's a rare thing in the mission. We're planning on singing together in a baptism. Also, I've officially completed more than 6 months of the mission! NUTS! All I have left is a sister missionary mission. Time is flying!

This transfer is already ending, and I'm pretty sure that my companion will be getting transferred, cuz he's been in this ward for 7.5 months. Elder Silva is a good guy, and I know it sounds bad, but I'm kinda glad he's getting transferred. This transfer I felt more like the senior companion, even though he has 11 months in the mission. He wasn't very obedient. He's had a lot of companions who were very disobedient (almost all of them), and they had a bad effect on him. But I must congratulate him on his progress, because he has grown a lot and is much more obedient now. I'm glad that I was able to be an example for him and help him learn habits that will help him the rest of his mission. I have a testimony that when we are obedient to the will of the Lord, the Lord blesses us greatly. He can entrust his missionaries with teaching his children the gospel when we are worthy of his trust. I hope Elder Silva keeps being obedient for the rest of his mission. That is the only way to be truly happy as a missionary. And I want him to be happy.

Welp family, I don't have any more time to write! I love all of you, and I want all of you to be happy as well!

-Elder Bogdan

{written July 27, 2011}

Feliz Dia de Independencia de Colombia!

Mis queridos,

No one wrote me! You lil slackers! haha, but it's all good. If no one's writing, it means everyone's doing great!

Welp, today, the 20th of July, was the Independence Day of Colombia! WOOT! This morning, we went to a parade too! I have pictures, but I think I'll send them next week, because my time is short today. Like always:) But the military marched around the city with their weapons and tanks and jeeps and stuff, and they let people enter the jeeps and tanks and take pictures. And then they had some marching bands and stuff. It was cool, but not as good as the parades in the USA. But I ate some ice cream, so that made things better, haha. This past week was really great! We had lots of good lessons, and we are helping families be more united more than anything else! To celebrate the Independence of Colombia, I'm gonna talk about my investigators in Spanish. Also cuz I wanna show off more;)

La primera es Nicole. Ella es muy buena, tiene 13 años, y está muy animada para su bautismo. Su papá es miembro pero era inactivo por muchos años y recién está regresando a la iglesia. Su familia tiene muchos problemas ahora y los hijos pelean mucho con el papá, y por eso él decidió regresar a la iglesia e invitarnos a enseñar a sus hijos. Estamos enseñando mucho de la familia y ayudando a ellos a tener mas unidad.

                                             La familia Martinez consiste de los papás y dos hijos (10 años y 3 años). Todavía no hemos conocido al papá, pero la mamá y sus hijos tienen interés, y tuvieron una experiencia muy buena en la capilla este domingo. La mamá (Elizabeth) quiere estar mas cerca a Dios para ser un ejemplo para sus hijos. Ella está teniendo problemas con su esposo ahora y no le gusta que el bebe tanto alcohol. Este domingo en la capilla, como siempre, el Señor planeó una clase perfecta para Elizabeth, y hablamos de la Palabra de Sabiduría.  La mamá y su hijo, Diego, tienen la fecha del 6 de agosto para su bautismo. También la mamá invitó a su sobrina a la última lección y ella también tiene mucho interés! La sobrina se llama Tatiana y tiene 14 años, y quiere estudiar medicina para encontrar la cura de cancer. Chévere, no?

Well, the last thing I wanna say is that today someone almost committed suicide. We were shopping in a mall and we noticed that everyone in the street were yelling and looking upward. There was a drunk man laying down at the ledge of a building, thinking about letting himself fall off. I was so scared for him. Today was the first time that I've ever seen something like that. The despicable thing is that in the midst of a crowd of ppl, I noticed that the majority of the people were laughing and smiling. For them it was like a joke, or some form of entertainment. There weren't many people who were scared, or worried, or showed the slightest bit of compassion for the man. Yeah, he was a drunkard, and maybe he wasn't a very respectable man, but maybe he drinks because of all of his problems. Some dumb guys even had a heart cold enough to yell to the man, ´´Jump already! What are you waiting for? If you wanna jump, hurry and do it!´´ And they were laughing hysterically at the same time. It's like they were waiting to see something exciting happen, waiting for the man to jump. It was despicable. I got really angry. I thought for a while about going up to help the man. I was only two or three floors below him. Eventually I decided to go up. The stairway was closed by a locked gate that the suicidal man had locked, so I couldn't walk up the stairs. I can't explain it very well, but I started climbing the siderail of the stairs to get up to man. As I started to climb up, my companion told me that the police had just then grabbed the man and were taking him down. His wife had showed up too, I believe. The message of the story is... well, I don't know exactly. Perhaps it's that the world has degraded so much that people have lost the ability to have love and compassion. In St. Matthew, one of the signs of the second coming of Christ is that the love of man will wax cold. So the invitation is to love everyone, with all of your heart. We have to fight against that despicable plague of the inability to love, that despicable plague that I saw today. We have to love everyone, serve everyone, we cannot afford to be selfish, and only think of ourselves. Perhaps we can change the life of a person, or save the life of a person. I always loved the song from The Fray, ´´How to Save a Life´´. The world needs the gospel in their lives. The true gospel, the fulness of the gospel that is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And more than just believe in the gospel, we have to live it, and apply it to every aspect of our lives. Because Colombia is FULL of Christians - Catholics, 7th Day Adventists, Jehovah´s Witnesses, Mormons, etc. - but today I saw a whole bunch of Christians and people who claim a belief in God and Christ, but are obviously not living the teachings of them. 

Well, I gotta go! Just do what Christ would do in every circumstance that you find yourself in. Love as he loves. Serve as he did. Because if we don't love, if we don't serve, we are not worthy to be called Christians.

Elder Bogdan
{written July 20, 2011}

I love the Gospel! Amen.

Dearest Family!

Thanks for all the letters that you guys sent! It was so nice to read them and laugh and smile and feel your love and feel the Spirit also! I'm glad that everyone is doing great! The Lord is protecting and blessing our family! Jonathan, I'm glad that everything turned out well with your surgery and that you're covering! I hope that everyone has been treating you good in your times of health trials! Sounds like Alex and David are doing good too, and I know that yall had a good time with Travis. I miss my brothers! Keep writing me and giving me mission advice:) Raquel and Ben and Tyler are also doing really good too, so that makes me happy. I always want the best for the first family that emerged from us kids. How old is Ben now? 26? Heavenly Father protected Lisette during work in a situation that was really hazardous too - don't know if everyone knows that story. Travis is obviously living the dream of a teenage kid this summer, so that's pretty sick too! He's never gonna forget his summer at SOAR:) Mom also sounds like she's doing perfect and is happy! And the Raquel & fam are gonna visit mom in the end of July, so that'll make mom even happier! And Dad got to have a good experience at scout camp with his youngest son and is strong and healthy (as always, haha). The Lord is blessing us a lot, even if we don't realize it. So don't forget him. EVER. And as mom wrote to me, we should always count our blessings:)

Not much to say this week. It flew by and I feel like I wrote you guys like 2 or 3 days ago. But we have an investigator who I'm positive is gonna get baptized!!! Por fin! Her name is Nicole and she's 13 years old. She's really great, and wants to make great changes in her life, because she's been acting up in school, in home, with her friends, and has gotten into smoking already at a young age. She lives with her dad and her older brother. Her dad is already a member but has been inactive for most of Nicole's life, and so she never went to church. But now the dad's going, she's going, and we hope to start teaching the son and get him to go to church too. He is 16 yrs old. We're gonna visit them tonight and have a lesson with them. SWEET! Welp, I don't really have much else to say. This area has still been difficult, and things have been a little difficult with my companion too, but I know that this time of trial will make me stronger and a better instrument in the Lord's hands if I choose to learn what the Lord wants me to learn from this experience. And I trust God with whatever plans he has for me. I hope that I can do what I need to do to become who the Lord wants me to become. Also, today we went to another waterfall, and it was cool and I didn't come close to falling off the cliff this time. I love all you guys! Be good! Stay in school! Don't do drugs! And read this scripture, ponder on it, and let it change you for good.

Joshua 1:8-9


Elder Bogdan

{written July 13, 2011}

Latino Word of the Week: ''July'', as in ''Why do july to me so much?''

Latino Word of the Week: ''July'', as in ''Why do july to me so much?''

Querida familia,

Hey guys! I just wanna tell y'all about 3 cool things that happened this week:

1. You're probably wondering what I did this 4th of July. Well first of all, I didn't set off any fireworks. Y'all are probably thinking, ''Elder Bogdan, julyer, of course you set off fireworks!'' But you'd be mistaken, because the fact of the matter is that I didn't set off any fireworks. I did see a couple as we were walking home to our apartment in the night. Now y'all are probably thinking, ''Elder Bogdan, why do july so much? They don't celebrate the 4th of July in Colombia!'' But once again, you'd be mistaken. Because the fact of the matter is, this year they DID celebrate the 4th of July in Colombia. Why? Good question. Monday was a Catholic Holiday for some saint, so people were off work and the kids didn't have school. Monday night, Elder Benson (a gringo who lives in my apartment) and I decided we were gonna eat American style, so we made hamburgers! And sang American songs while making them. And a member had some root beer and brought it to our house, along with ice cream, and we had root beer floats! Oh man oh man, it was SOOOOO GOOOOOD (as teen girl squad says it - I think only David gets that joke...) But seriously, I didn't realize how much I missed root beer and ice cream and hamburgers. Don't get me wrong, the Colombian food is delicious, but I felt a little bit at home that night with my American food. I miss you guys! And America too! La tierra prometida:) What did all of y'all do for 4th of July?! And especially what did Ben and Rascal and Tyler-poo do? And what did Copper-poo do??

2. Today my zone of 9 missionaries went to a water fall in a city called Pie de Cuesta. It was big and awesome and we took some really cool pictures! But something even more exciting happened. Kinda miraculous actually. I was walking on a mountainside at the edge of a cliff, above a river on our way to the waterfall. My shoes were already wet, and the ground was wet too, and I slipped. And fell 30 feet or more down the cliff! Well, I more of slid down the cliff. But it wasn't as nuts as it sounds. There was mud and soft grass as I was falling and so I didn't get hurt. I remember trying to grab some grass as I was falling and it didn't work. I remember falling towards the river at the bottom and seeing big rocks, and I remember thinking, ''Shoot, I can't let myself crash into those rocks. If my head hits the rocks that will be REALLY BAD.'' At last, my fall stopped as I landed in the river, and I didn't hit any rocks or anything. I didn't break any bones, or even bleed much. I just have some scratches on one of my arms and a little bruise on my hip. I am so glad that we started our activity today with a prayer, and that Heavenly Father was protecting me. And I know he's protected me many times so far in my mission. Honestly, that had the possibility of turning out really bad, and I am so grateful to Heavenly Father that he has allowed me to continue my mission as if nothing happened:)

3. This week we had a zone conference of missionaries with our mission president. We learned a lot and did a lot of role-playing to practice our teaching. My favorite part was at the end, when we listened to a talk from the apostle Jeffrey R. Holland. He gave a POWERFUL message to missionaries in the MTC, and as we were listening to it, I felt the spirit so strong. My favorite part was when he talked about the story of the apostle Peter. Christ first found Peter fishing, and Peter wasn't having success in catching fish. Jesus told him to cast his net on the opposite side, and suddenly the net was filled with fish. The apostles were dumbfounded and astonished at this incident, and that is when Christ invited them to follow him and be his disciples, saying, ''I will make thee fishers of men.''

After Christ's death, Peter was the new president of the Church. He wasn't a very good nor experienced leader, and didn't have Christ there to help him lead the church. The apostles asked him, ''What do we do now?'' And Peter didn't know. So everyone returned back to their normal lives, and Peter went back to fishing with some of the other apostles. As they were fishing, they were extremely sad, and they were constanly thinking about their beloved friend and Savior who had died. Their sorrow and lack of desire to fish was made shown in the fact that they didn't catch a single fish all that day. Then suddenly, the apostles see a man on the shore, who asks them how their fishing was going along. They told him that they didn't catch any fish, and the man tells them to cast their net on the opposite side of the boat. Suddenly, they catch many fishes. This had already happened once, when the apostles had first met Christ. The apostles, at that instant realized that the man on the shore was the same Christ. ''It's him!'' they thought, ''It's him!'' Their beloved friend, the person that they loved the most had returned to them in those difficult times when the apostles didn't know what to do, when they didn't feel like they could just return back to their regular lives after all that had changed when they were serving Christ. Excited beyond measure, they jumped out of the boat into the water and waded to the shore to greet their Savior.

That night, as they were eating, Christ asked Peter, '' Do you love me more than this food that we're eating?''

Peter answered yes.

Christ responded, ''Feed my sheep.''

Then again Christ asked, ''Do you love me more than all these boats and this sea and your friends here with us?''

Peter answered yes.

Christ said, ''Feed my sheep.''

Then again, ''Do you love me more than all your earthly possessions and your own self?''

Then Peter gave the response that changed the rest of his life. ''Yes Lord, I love you more than everything else.''

And Jesus responded, ''Feed my sheep. I invited you once, when we first met, to leave everything behind and serve me, and you were to be a fisher of men. When I extended that invitation, it wasn't for a few years, it was the rest of your life. When you left your job as a fisherman, it was for the rest of your life. There's no going back, Peter. You can't return back to fishing. Now you must feed my sheep. I will not extend the invitation a 4th time.''

And Peter nevermore returned to fishing mere fish, but dedicated the rest of his life to being a fisher of men. Because he loved Christ more than anything else. Forget about the stubborn Peter, or the violent Peter, or the ear-cutting Peter, or the Peter who denied Christ three times. That night is when Peter became the Great Apostle. When Peter finally realized that he loved Christ more than anything else, that is what set the tone for the rest of his life. That is what allowed him to become a great instrument in the Lord's hands.

That talk really inspired me, and motivated me. The mission is hard. Really hard. There are a lot of things in my new area that I find discouraging. Sometimes I lose my bright positive attitude, and I found myself needing more motivation. I realized that I, like Peter, love Christ more than anything else. I miss home at times, I miss my friends at times, I miss being able to celebrate the 4th of July, I miss hamburgers and root beer and ice cream, I miss Copper, I miss listening to music, and playing instruments, and watching movies, and most of all, I miss my family. But I love Christ more than all of those things. So I'm willing to give up those things. There's no going back. I can't return back to a life of comfort and luxury. And the rest of my life will never be the same. Because a mission changes one's life drastically. And so now I must feed the Lord's sheep. That was the Lord's call to me. Like Peter, I was to leave everything behind and follow Christ, being a fisher of men. That is the sacrifice I have to do, and it is nothing compared to Christ's sacrifice.

I love all of you, and I love my Savior more than anything else. I am willing to sacrifice these two years. We are all faced with decisions we have to make. We want some things, but the Lord calls us to give up those things and to do his will. It's not about what we want but what the Lord wants. So self evaluate: We all have things that we do, pleasures that we have, that we know we should give up, things that we know the Lord is not in agreement with in our lives, things that we know we need to change. Do we love Christ more than anything else? Can we trust in the Lord and finally give up that bad habit, or that bad TV show, or that bad music, etc?

I hope you all are doing great! Please keep writing me! Know that I love you all very much, and that I have sacrificed time with y'all these two years because I love Christ, and also because I love you guys too.

Be good,
Elder Bogdan

{written July 6, 2011}

Mi primera semana en Bucaramanga

Querida Familia,

This week in Bucaramanga has been a learning experience. I feel like I am growing as a missionary in many ways, and of course, I still have a lot more to learn. I want to be such a great instrument in the hands of the Lord, and make a difference in the world, or at least make a difference in the world of a person. I love the Gospel so much. It is the greatest privilege to serve God and serve my friends. My favorite painting right now of Jesus Christ is on my wall next to my desk where I study every morning. It is the picture of Jesus Christ washing the feet of the apostle Peter. I love the message that Jesus shared that goes with that simple act of service. Christ is so humble and so loving, and we should always be humble and willing to kneel down and serve someone as Christ did so many times. We can make a difference in the world, or at least make a difference in the world of a person. Don't get so caught up in yourselves that you forget to serve others. Always look for those opportunities to serve, giving someone temporal happiness and spiritual happiness. Serve in physical ways, such as helping someone who's car broke down, or painting a house, or donating food. And also serve in spiritual ways, sharing the Gospel with all that you meet, for that is what will give lasting happiness, and lasting peace.

Well, a little bit about Bucaramanga. It's hotter and more humid here than in Bogotá, but it doesn't rain as much here and the sun is always shining, so that's really cool. And in comparison to the weather in Houston right now, Bucaramanga weather is beautiful (but still hot). The city is really nice, and very commercial. I feel like I am in Miami or California or something. And I live in a big house too! Haha, I felt like I was in a dreamhouse when I arrived to my apartment. It has two floors, three bathrooms, and a gi-normous patio with a beautiful view of all the city! My companion, Elder Silva, is from Lima and talks like a kid from the streets (a little gangster). He's funny and cool, and although he's the senior companion, I feel more like the senior companion. I am the one that talks more in the lessons, and I feel like he's very comfortable here in Bucaramanga, cuz he's been in the same ward for 6 months. So I'm the one motivating him and training him. But he's a really good guy, and smiles a lot. Welp, since I arrived here, we have found lots of new investigators who God has truly prepared. One lady, Rosa Rivera, told us about her son who was killed some years ago. The last three months of his life he had made lots of changes and started going to a church. He also was reading the Bible and a lot more happier in his life. Her husband and her had dreams about him after his death and she wanted to know where her son is right now. In the dream of her husband, the son was wearing a white shirt and told his dad that he should quit drinking and take care of mom, and that he would be waiting for his parents ''over there''. In a dream the mom had, she saw her son entering what looked like a pool with clothing on. He looked really happy when he was entering the pool. I couldnt help but think that the dream had something to do with the baptisms for the dead that take place in the temples. Her son started his path to God at the end of his life, and is continuing the path and learning in the next life. Now he is ready for a baptism, and needs the help of his mom. We ended up teaching the mom about the Plan of Salvation. She is very interested! We want to teach her more about temples and vicarious work for the dead. Welp, Bucaramanga is really sweet! I hope you all are having a great summer and vacations! I think so, because the number of letters has dropped significantly, haha.

-Elder Bogdan

{written June 30, 2011}

Transfer to Bucaramanga!

Querido Familia,
No tengo tiempo para escribirles mucho. These past 5 days I have been in an area in Bogotá called Engativá. It's in the same stake as my old ward Alejandría. I was there temporarily replacing a missionary who finished his mission and left for the US. Another gringo from Idaho took my place in Alejandría while I've been here in Engativá. It's been really cool here in Engativá. In these 5 days I have already grown to love the people so much, it's NUTS! I'm gonna miss the members and the investigators, because tomorrow I'm leaving for my official new area in.... BUCARAMANGA! Uncle Greg is familiar with this city. Everyone in Colombia talks about how beautiful it is, so I'm really excited, although I'm gonna extremely miss Alejandría and Engativá. My companion will be Elder Silva, another Peruano. I hope he's cool and a powerful missionary and that we can learn a lot from each other!
I hope ur all doing well! I love you all, and I love the Gospel! It is SUUPPPERRRRRRR! And super true, too:)

Elder Bogdan
{written June 20, 2011}

Happy Birfday, David!

¡Familia Mía!

First off, Happy 29th Birthday, David! What are you gonna do for your birthday?! I love you broseph! And also, Happy Father's Day! I love you Daddio!

This past Saturday we had our Ward Talent Show! We had investigators come and a lot of inactives members too. The Primary performed a reenactment of Pinnochio, the Relief Society and some Elders did some really cool Colombian dances, little kids told some jokes, other youth and YSA sang. We invited the missionaries in our zone to help us, and we performed some funny skits that all the members liked a lot. And I sang ''Mas Cerca Dios de Ti'' (Nearer My God to Thee), with a youth in our ward playing guitar while I sang. It was a success and the members wanna have another activity like it!

Ok, big news. Guess what happened? There were emergency transfers and I'm getting transferred:( NOOOOOOOoooooooooo! Jaja, but seriously, I really didn't wanna get transferred. Que vaina... I have grown to love the people and the ward so much. I remember that during my first transfer here in the Alejandría ward, sometimes I wanted to leave and go to a different city. Bogotá was cool, but it always rained and there was never sun. And the members weren't helping us very much in the missionary work. But now Alejandría is like my home. It has stopped raining so much and there's more sun, and I'm cool with all the members at last. They've started telling me that they really appreciate me in their ward and that I mean a lot to all of the members in the ward. There's a Seventy in our ward (did I ever tell you guys that?), the Torres family, and they love me because I look a lot like their son, Mauricio, who's serving a mission in Utah. And his friends in the ward tell me the same thing - that I remind them of him. The mom gave us a gift two Sundays ago too, some really nice umbrellas that won't break for a good while.

And the members have at last started giving us references too! Things were starting to look up. We have been teaching La Familia Puello, who are references and very kind. And this past week we had some amazing Family Home Evenings with investigators and with members. La Familia Santa Maria are references of the bishop and we had a great FHE with them, the bishop's family, and two other families in the ward. And on Sunday they went to Church and were just raving about all the the things they loved. And we were teaching other amazing families as well that were all references from the members. Really cool huh? But now that things have changed here in Alejandría, I'm getting changed too. Perhaps my job here is done. I have helped strengthen the ward and we have had found some remarkable people who have entered the fold of God and the church of God, who also help to strengthen the ward. The members are doing more missionary work now, so that is a great accomplishment. I pray that it continues, and I'm pretty sure it will. I'm also gonna miss my companion, Elder Cardona, a lot. We're best friends, and it stinks that we only had a little bit of time together. Not even a whole 6-week transfer, because he arrived later in the transfer, and I'm leaving a little bit before the transfer ends. We were together to celebrate his birthday and we wanted to stay together this transfer to celebrate MY birthday. But I guess not. It's sad, but immediately when I heard about the transfer, I also knew it was for the best. I know that Heavenly Father leads this work and that He sends His missionaries where they're needed. I'm excited to get to know a new area and a new group of people and accomplish my purpose in that area as well.

Right now I'm serving in an area called Engativá. It's in the same stake, same zone. Two days ago a missionary finished his mission and left for his house in the U.S., so now I'm temporarily replacing him here in Engativá, and on Sunday someone will call me to let me know if I'm gonna stay here in Engativá or move to a different city. Wish me luck! I love you all! Sharing the Gospel is so great! And do not fear in sharing the Gospel. Fear has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks for me at times, and it is the opposite of faith.

Que estèn bien!
Élder Bogdan

{written June 16, 2011}

Bautismo y Show de Talentos:)

Holar, familia!
Welp, I hope you all liked my pictures last week! Nobody wrote me this week, so I guess yall are STILL looking at my pictures... ahaha, but seriously, what's going on?! I hope everybody is doing great and I still love yall.
This past Saturday, we had the baptism of Jesús Alberto! He was so happy and excited! He's wanted to get baptized from the start and there were a lot of obstacles. But at last, he was able to participate in that special covenant with the Lord and feel the joy of his sins being forgiven. As the dude with dreadlocks says in Saturday's Warrior, ''He's gonna wash away his SINS!'' And that's exactly what happened on Saturday. I had the grand privilege of baptizing him:) It is so great to be able to use the priesthood to bless the lives of others, and I'm so glad that Heavenly Father trusts me enough to entrust me with his holy priesthood, the power to bless the lives of others in miraculous ways. Miracles still happen today. The priesthood which the worthy males of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints possess is the same power of Jesus Christ to bless people and perform miracles. And in the baptism, I sang with a member girl ''Señor Te Necesito'' (''I Need Thee Every Hour'') as the special musical number. It was pretty cool:)
THIS SATURDAY as part of the ward mission plan we're going to have a Talent Show! The members are all really excited to watch and to perform! We're expecting a lot of ppl who aren't members of the church to come to the Talent Show and we're going to jot down their numbers and directions and hand out Books of Mormon and Liahona magazines. I'm excited! My comp and I, along with other missionaries in our zone, are gonna perform some funny skits and I'm gonna play the guitar and sing a hymn. Wish me luck! Especially since I haven't had time to practice at all and I still don't know what song I'm gonna sing. But it's all good, Heavenly Father always helps and inspires me when I improvise:) Welp, gotta go! I love you all! I hope everything is going well for you guys. Happy Summer! Ciao!
Con mucho amor y cariño,
Elder Vitola
haha jk... it's me, Elder Bogdan! Peace!
{written June 8, 2011}


Para la familia mas hermosa en todo el mundo:

I love all of you very much! I know I say that every week, but every time of think about you guys I realize how great you all are:) Well as usual, I don't have very much time to write. Today our zone of 12 missionaries went to a place called Monserrate and we arrived back to our areas later than expected, so that's why I don't have much time to write. But it was really cool! We took a cable car up to the top of a mountain and at the top you can see all of Bogotá. There's a big Catholic church at the top of the mountain and also a market where you can buy all sorts of souvenirs. I also got to pet a llama today! So that was really fun! At the bottom are some attached pictures from when we went to La Laguna Sagrada, and from today when we went to Monserrate, and from other mission stuff, including pictures with the 4 baptisms that we've had. My new companion Elder Cardona is in pic 0596.

Well, we haven't been able to have baptisms for a while, but this Saturday we're having a baptism for our investigator Jesús Alberto! He is older and sometimes he doesn't remember things well, so we thought it would take longer for him to get baptized because he has to understand all the principles pretty well. He's amazing, and he's had a testimony since the start and has wanted to get baptized since the start! And guess what?! He chose ME to baptize him! Haha! So this Saturday I will be baptizing for the second time in my life!

We are also teaching a golden family- La Familia Puello is a reference of members in the ward and they are a awesome! We haven't been able to visit them lately because they've been busy, but we ran into the mom the other day and she was so happy to see us! She told us that her husband is very happy in the Church and that her son Miguel (14 yrs old) ran home from school one day when he found out that we were going to visit them, opened the door, and immediately asked, ´´Where are the Elders?!´´ The appointment wasn't until later that day so he was disappointed when we weren't in his house when he got home from school. Miguel reminds my companion and I a lot of Joseph Smith because he is 14, has a lot of questions about religion, and he's looking for the truth. We're going to visit them tonight:)

Well I gotta go! I love you all! Take care and listen to mom! There's a lot of people we can be praying for right now. And we as members of the Church need to be strengthening others, in the community, in the ward, in the extended family, and most importantly, I think there's a lot that we can do right now to strengthen the members of our immediate family. Go forth and do good!

Con mucho amor
Elder Bogdanovich